On Thursday, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted on an aggravated assault charge in the state of New Jersey. The charge was laid last month on Feb. 15 when police responded to a call at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, where Rice and his fiancée, Janay Palmer were reportedly having a domestic dispute. Both parties were arrested and then charged after video evidence showed both members of the couple striking each other. Rice, possibly looking for a peaceful weekend getaway after a rough football season, instead has found nothing but misfortune in Atlantic City.
The former pro bowl running back had a rough go of things this past year, dealing with a hip injury and recording his lowest offensive output since his rookie season in 2008. Just one year removed from winning the Super Bowl, coach John Harbaugh stuck by his embattled running back right to the bitter end of an 8-8 season. Now, after Rice’s wild night in Jersey, he faces a third-degree aggravated assault charge that carries a potential sentence of three to five years in prison, a hefty punishment for a night on the town with a significant other. Of course the question on everyone’s mind is, what was the reason for the altercation in the first place?
Rice’s attorney, Michael Diamondstein states that there are a “significant number of facts” that the general public does not know about, and that once they are brought forth, the perception of Rice will change. For the pro bowler’s sake it ought to, or he may deal with a similar response as Chad Johnson did when he was released by the Miami Dolphins after his arrest for domestic battery. Though Johnson never did any substantial time, he has never been signed by an NFL team since. And even though Rice’s charges somewhat differ, assaulting a woman, let alone his fiancée, does not look good in the public eye. Had Ray Rice chosen to conduct himself more carefully, maybe he never would have found such misfortune in Atlantic City, and could have avoided the situation altogether.
But the 2012 Super Bowl champion is just another example of a long line of NFL players who seem to think they can conduct themselves in whatever manner they wish. Whether it be former New England Patriot star Aaron Hernandez who is currently under investigation for murder, or Michael Vick who went to jail for the well-publicized dog fighting operation. Plaxico Burress did time in recent years. Retired NFL running backs Jamal Lewis and Michael Bennett have been in legal trouble. Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault, and even though never convicted, his image was not quite the same after. Adam “Pacman” Jones had a string of run-ins with the law that spanned several football seasons. Former Carolina Panthers receiver Rae Carruth is currently serving a 24 year sentence for conspiracy to commit murder. And then there is the NFL Hall of Famer, and possibly the most famous convicted criminal in the past 20 years, O.J. Simpson.
There are many reasons as to why so many pro athletes find themselves in trouble, whether it be poor upbringing, substance abuse, or involvement in gangs, it does not really matter. What does, however, is that these athletes find a way to get beyond their vices and try to move forward as popular figures in society, because whether they wanted to be role models or not, there are young kids everywhere emulating their every move. Ray Rice found misfortune in Atlantic City, and if athletes like him do not start correcting this type of behavior there will be a many more athletes finding misfortunes in the future.
Commentary by Kalen Skalesky